Demystifying the Phrases in Race-related talk, Pt. II

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posted on Apr, 5 2007 @ 10:38 PM
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While White Privilege IMO is a very real and undeniable aspect of society, the use of the phrase "Dominant Culture" I believe to be problematic.

Allow me to elaborate...

When one hears the words Dominant Culture, one visualizes one single entity. This can not be, for there is no one single culture prevalent in society in the United States.

Having traveled extensively in most of the states, I have observed cultures as varied as the individuals that comprise them. Having been raised in the Deep Coal Mountains of rural West Virginia, traveled to the four corners of the earth in the Marines and policed several northern urban populations, I have encountered people that seem to come from different parts of the galaxy.

To say the residents of Green Sulphur West Virginia are in anyway culturally connected to those in Wilmington Delaware, is a stretch I doubt any sociologist would make. Regardless of the color of their skins.

We live in a multi-cultural society currently without a dominant culture. Unless one counts the rich politicians in the North East. (Kennedy's)

I would suggest that Dominant Race would be more applicable and accurate. I understand that some may find this term offensive, but to coin a phrase myself, it is what it is.

We have a dominant race in the United States. That is simple fact and can be proven with simple mathematics. Because it is uncomfortable does not discredit it's use...

Semper




posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 07:55 AM
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Originally posted by semperfortis
We live in a multi-cultural society currently without a dominant culture. Unless one counts the rich politicians in the North East. (Kennedy's)


The Kennedys (and Bushes) from up there like to think they dominate...
Aint none of them worth a diddly doo dah in my book... different subject, though...




I would suggest that Dominant Race would be more applicable and accurate.


All kidding aside... this is a very interesting concept. How would you define Dominant in this context? Is it the same as "Majority", as in the race with the most numbers? Or is there more to it?



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 08:15 AM
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I believe that in a race related discussion, involving phrases that are commonly used, the Dominant Race would by definition be the one with all the "Perks" as it were. The most prevalent, the majority or even those in control.


dom·i·nant /ˈdɒmənənt/

1. ruling, governing, or controlling; having or exerting authority or influence: dominant in the chain of command.
2. occupying or being in a commanding or elevated position.
3. predominant; main; major; chief: Corn is the dominant crop of Iowa.
4. Genetics. of or pertaining to a dominant.
5. Music. pertaining to or based on the dominant: the dominant chord.
–noun
6. Genetics.
a. the one of a pair of alternative alleles that masks the effect of the other when both are present in the same cell or organism.
b. the trait or character determined by such an allele. Compare recessive (defs. 4, 5).
Online Dictionary


As you can see, the white race qualifies under several of the categories.

While I am opposed to reparations, I am also in opposition to those that argue that slavery has no impact on today. I advocate personal choice and personal responsibility (As most know) but that goes toward the white race as well. Let us not forget that barely 40 years have gone by when we had a separate water fountain for blacks.....

So my stance is that the "Dominant Race" would be currently the white race. (I know some are fuming but lets be honest here) I grew up in WV and now live in South Carolina, Myrtle Beach is not bad, but my jurisdiction is fully one quarter of the state. I see prejudice everyday.

Let me qualify here that using and advocating the phrase Dominant Race does in no way indicate that I accept race as a reason for being a victim. Again, I am a HUGE proponent of personal responsibility and fully believe that even if one is not a member of the dominant race, any individual with the will can succeed if they choose to.

Semper



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 08:50 AM
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Originally posted by semperfortis
I believe that in a race related discussion, involving phrases that are commonly used, the Dominant Race would by definition be the one with all the "Perks" as it were. The most prevalent, the majority or even those in control.

...

As you can see, the white race qualifies under several of the categories.


OK, I think I see where you are coming from here. And this brings up again the complexity of the whole subject, and the idea of a Dominant Class. And in the US today (and for a good long time, I believe), the Dominant Class is based on wealth. And there are plenty of non-white people who are members of this Dominant Class. I probably do not have to trot out the list of names.



I am also in opposition to those that argue that slavery has no impact on today. I advocate personal choice and personal responsibility


Totally agree!




Let us not forget that barely 40 years have gone by when we had a separate water fountain for blacks.....


Agree here, as well. I think anyone who honestly thinks the US is one big egalitarian society even today is dreaming.



So my stance is that the "Dominant Race" would be currently the white race.


But again, and I think this is the thing that we keep stumbling over (or one of them, anyway) in these discussions... it does not appear to be as simple as plain race.

For example, as stated above, I am white. And I no doubt have been the recipient of White Privilege at some point(s) in my life, although not consciously or deliberately on my part.

And, I have no political power and virtually no economic power (I am relatively debt free, but that's it).

So I'm not sure we can say Dominant Race any more than we can say Dominant Culture... maybe Dominant Class? Using your same definition.

With full acknowledgment that the Dominant Class in the US is mostly represented by white Indo-European descendants.

And here's a thought... do you think that it is possible that there IS a Dominant Race, and the 'inclusion' of some more or less 'token' non-whites is an attempt (conscious or not) to hide that fact, and create the appearance only of a Dominant Class?

In other, more blunt words, is it possible the Kennedy and Bush (and others) families are laughing in their sleeves, and saying in effect about people like Rice and Gonzales: "oh, aren't they cute?"

Note: I am asking this question as a pure question - speculation. I do not adhere to this viewpoint.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 09:04 AM
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the Dominant Class is based on wealth. And there are plenty of non-white people who are members of this Dominant Class. I probably do not have to trot out the list of names.


In many aspects here I agree. I would only stipulate that the VAST majority of wealth is in the hands of the white race. (Here in the US) Overseas it is a little different with OPEC..


and here's a thought... do you think that it is possible that there IS a Dominant Race, and the 'inclusion' of some more or less 'token' non-whites is an attempt (conscious or not) to hide that fact, and create the appearance only of a Dominant Class?


In my experiences I have found mankind to be far too inherently self absorbed to ever come together in a conspiracy of that magnitude. Though I would not exclude it...


In other, more blunt words, is it possible the Kennedy and Bush (and others) families are laughing in their sleeves, and saying in effect about people like Rice and Gonzales: "oh, aren't they cute?"


I don't know....

I have huge respect for Rice, Powell, Gonzales and every other non white person that has overcome adversity and been successful. And not only in politics...
It is hard to determine how the fashionably elite are acting at any one given time. "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely"

We can not just exclude race as the cause because we determine class as the effect either. I think that class is pertinent and must not be excluded in discussing race, but I do feel we can not ignore the past and even the present racial divide...

Semper



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 09:11 AM
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Originally posted by semperfortis
We can not just exclude race as the cause because we determine class as the effect either. I think that class is pertinent and must not be excluded in discussing race, but I do feel we can not ignore the past and even the present racial divide...


Agreed. Clearly the subject is convoluted in the extreme...

I have to go to work now... more later, I reckon.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 09:11 AM
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I do want to address one thing that I was guilty of as well...

I call it "jumping on the band wagon"...

In regards to "catch phrases" the cutesy little phrases we make up or read about are just that, cute... They become somewhat of a distraction and then even used to flame when used again and again and again..

Specifically I am referencing...

Victim Culture
Invisible Knapsack
Linguistic Gymnastics

Now as we are attempting to debate this topic on an intellectual level, and this topic is about "Phrases", would it not behoove us to limit our own "catch phrases"?

This would have the effect of all of us contributing to the solution as opposed to the problem.

It seems like every time we read a cute little word someone has made up that supports our particular position, we use it to no end to illustrate whatever point we are making.

It just seems contradictory to me to use catch phrases to discuss catch phrases...

Semper

Edited for spelling

[edit on 4/6/2007 by semperfortis]



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 09:39 AM
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Originally posted by semperfortis
Taking this phenomenon to a logical conclusion, one must surmise the phrase [Oreo] is used to belittle anyone differing in opinion, lifestyle or political leanings...


I love this post, Semper and I thank you for it.

Without diminishing the real race issues prevalent in this country today, I'm realizing how much of my differences with some others on this board actually have to do with politics rather than race.

Ceci, I'd ask you to consider that some (if not most)
of the differences of opinion we have had can be attributed to our different politics. I am not a member of any political party, but I find that my political leanings are closest to the Libertarian philosophy, which stresses individual rights, individual responsibility and personal freedom for all.

I believe there is a delicate balance to be maintained between individual (personal) responsibility and community or civic responsibility. Going "too far" in either direction, I feel, can be damaging to the whole of society. And it isn't a black-and-white situation. In other words, because I believe in personal responsibility, doesn't mean I feel I have NO responsibility to the community and my fellow man. I believe I do.

I found this is a Teachers' Guide, but it's a very understandable (to me) explanation of the balance between individual responsibility and collective responsibility. I don't agree with every word, but it's got some good stuff!




Individual Responsibility and Civic Involvement

As a moralist, Gandhi was preoccupied with personal integrity and individual responsibility. He had great difficulty in coming to terms with the need for collective discipline and the moral compromises required by membership of the state. Gandhi claimed that every citizen was responsible for his actions and that responsibility was in no way diminished by what others did or did not do.

However, in his opinion it was wrong to say that what an isolated individual did had no wider consequences. For Gandhi it was the citizen’s sense of moral responsibility for his own actions that ultimately determined the character of the state. Men were responsible for one another, and if one of them turned delinquent, the rest could not disown their equal responsibility for his behavior. Even as a wrongdoer must search his conscience, the others must probe theirs.

The slow and painful task of cultivating and consolidating the sense of humanity, and thereby laying the foundations of a truly moral community, was an essentially collective responsibility. In Gandhi’s view the citizen is responsible for the actions of his government. The citizen is a party to its actions and partly responsible for their consequences. A citizen cannot hide behind the façade of collective responsibility, for it is composed of and does not replace individual responsibility (Parekh, 1989).


Ah! Love that!


Dominant Cult... uh, Dominant Rac... uh, I mean, Dominant Clas...


To me, ANY attempt to separate a group by culture, race, wealth OR class and call them "Dominant" is somewhat of a contradiction in terms. Even the wealthy aren't necessarily dominant. There are wealthy people living on islands somewhere who don't give a whit about governing ruling or controlling.

Adding the adjective "Dominant" to any group, be it by culture, race, etc... is like adding the adjective "intelligent" or "selfish" or "beautiful" to a group of people. It's categorizing all the people within that culture, race or class as having the attribute defined by that adjective.

For example, if we use the term "Beautiful Race" and apply it to Arabs. Just as we would say, "White people are the Dominant Race", we now say, "Arabs are the Beautiful Race". It's partially true, because there are certainly beautiful Arabs. But it's really meaningless because there are Arabs that aren't beautiful.

That's why I think trying to make "Dominant" fit with ANYTHING except for those who DOMINATE is a trap.

Because while a certain number of wealthy people are dominant, many aren't.
While a certain number of white people are dominant, many aren't.
While a certain number of the "American culture" are dominant, many aren't.

The only purposes served by categorizing a segment of society as "Dominant", are to separate, instill guilt and propagate and validate the idea that one doesn't have power over their own life.

...in my not-so-humble opinion. I think it should be tossed.


Originally posted by semperfortis
Now as we are attempting to debate this topic on an intellectual level, and this topic is about "Phrases", would it not behoove us to limit out own "catch phrases"?


Well-said!
If we're trying to have a real discussion, the last thing we should be doing is trying to push each other's buttons. Having said that, there are times when a short phrase is simply shorthand for something that could be said with 15 words. It's up to us each to determine exactly what we want with this discussion and if it's worth those extra keystrokes.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 10:09 AM
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BH,

While I agree with you on most occasions, I think that using the term "Dominant" does not have the implications you point out. At least not in the manner in which I was referencing dominant race...

The term dominant race can be simply applied to numbers.. There are more whites in power, so white would fit the definition of dominant...

I understand that using a term as inflammatory as dominant race is at times problematic, but as we are remaining with intellectual guidelines here, I believe it defines the issue and is applicable...

Majority Race is definitive, but not completely descriptive in this instance IMHO...

My belief is that we can move past the negative connotations involved with any single word or phrase as long as it is being used within the context of illustration or sincere meaning. Of course we then run the risk of the very real and oft observed, use of flaming words. But as a side effect that is going to happen anyway...

Semper



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 10:58 AM
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I hear what you're saying, Semper. And I'm going to disagree. There's no difference to me in using the phrases "Dominant Culture" (or "Dominant Race" for that matter) and using the phrase "Victim Culture".

The only proper way to assign dominance to a group of people would be to say the "Dominant People" or the "Dominant Population" or the "Dominant Populace". Why even bring race, wealth or culture into it? Just as everyone who is a victim isn't living in a victim mindset, everyone in a race, culture or class isn't dominant.

If we all know what the phrases mean and agree on their meaning and aren't emotionally charged by them, then I don't see any problem with their use. But I'm not sure that's happening here. Even the phrases "Race Card" and "I don't see color" can be used as long as we all know and agree with their meanings. And I'm not at all sure we do.

But in the interest of supporting the "clean slate" and really examining the phrases used in race-related discussions, I have decided that I am going to do my best to avoid ALL the jargon and emotional phrases around these race discussions. And everyone else can do as they please.
I'll still love ya.


I hope no one is emotionally charged by the phrase "clean slate".



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 11:19 AM
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Well you know what???

After some thinking here this morning. (I have the day off HURRAY)

I agree with you about the usage and I am joining you in not using them in my language within the boundaries of debate....

You convinced me...


Still they must be used in reference to this subject.. Just in order to debate them..

Semper



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 11:20 AM
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Well here are the 'usual' crowd again.
I really wish more people would participate in these threads.

I don't need outside sources to tell me what a phase means to me. I don't need an outside source to tell me what a phrase means to you. If you can't tell me what the phrase your using means to you, that's your problem. If I can't tell you what a phrase means to me, that's my problem. Besides, can't we just ask?

In the above paragraph, 'you' means 'not me', and 'me' means 'not you'. They are general terms.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 11:29 AM
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Well in that context anything can be generalized...

In any structured debate, the two or more parties must agree as to the base definitions of subject matter. If for no other reason than to prevent complete misunderstanding and sheer chaos..

Of course you can ask, yet if we spend our entire time asking what "IS" means, or Dominant, or Culture, to the other poster, what we have is a lot of time taken up on formality and little spent on the actual subject matter...

Semper



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 11:54 AM
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Exactly my point Semper.

Just to use 'dominant culture' as an example, which you layed out so well a couple posts back, is shown to mean different things to different people. Both words in that phrase can hold multiple meanings.

It is the user of these phrases who holds the responsibility in a debate, to be sure that the recipients of the phrase understand what the speaker means it to understand. I'm sure your aware that's why legal contracts always have a preamble of definition.

If one is going to use a phrase, one should feel compelled to initially define the phrase, or be 'ok' with someone's misintereptation, and to subsequently define it.

So in keeping with the spirit of the thread. I'll start with my definition of 'dominant culture' and what that phrase means to me.

Dominant Culture:

The behaviors and beliefs, characteristic of a particular social, or ethnic group of which the majority of a body of persons holds.

In these discussions, the body is America - and with the breadth of persons living in these borders, I cannot even begin to imagine what the dominant culture is. If anything, this country is cultureless, unless we could give credit to the strive for material wealth.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 02:00 PM
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Hey, nextguy! It's good to see you!


I want to speak about a few of the phrases that Ceci brought up. I have some questions and comments about them.


Originally posted by ceci2006
"I only see human beings."


Forgive my ignorance, but can someone tell me exactly what is offensive about this phrase? From my point of view, when a person addresses or deals with me, I want them to think of me as a human being, not a white person or a woman or any other 'attribute' of mine.

I have many experiences of taking my car to be fixed or buying auto parts, etc. where it was obvious that the man behind the counter was dealing with me a certain way because of my gender. I have been ignored, patronized and nearly humiliated by how some men have treated me, because they DID see a gender and didn't see the human being.



"I don't see a color."


I can understand how "I don't see a color" if taken literally, or to use as a way to not challenge racism when we see it, could be offensive, but I don't think anyone ever means it literally, nor do they mean to discount a part of who you are.



The Problem with "I don't see color"
. . .I am not complimented by well-intentioned people who say to me "But, Cheryl, when I look at you I don't see color. While on one hand I understand the intended sentiment of pluralism and acceptance in the comment on the other hand I am incensed by the casual denial of an essential part of who I am and I interpret the statement as insensitive and potentially racist. That attitude of denial comes from someone who has lived all of his or her life with "white skin privilege". It usually comes from someone who has lived in this society not having to experience the world in the way that I have, who probably doesn't recognize the privilege because it is such an internalized part of who they are.... "


This really bothers me... If she understands the intent of acceptance that the speaker is meaning, why does she insist on making it into something that she is incensed about?

That's like saying, "I understand what you're saying to me and it's very sweet, but I'm choosing to take it as an insult. Not because you mean it to be, but because I'm changing your meaning and interpreting it to be a denial of who I am and a racist statement."

I have learned from the black people here that I've been talking with, that being black is a large part of their identity. I understand and accept that without judgment. But I don't think it's fair that I must also make race (mine or theirs) a large part of our identities. Call that "white privilege" or whatever. I don't care. But if my statement of acceptance, that is KNOWN to be made in love and good will is going to be purposefully misinterpreted and made into an insult by the receiver, then it's going to be kind of hard to come to an understanding.



"Stop talking about race and it will go away."


I've never actually heard this one. And why would it be preferable to have race "go away" anyway? I have heard people say that focusing on racism feeds racism and I kind of agree with that. But I don't think we can just ignore racism and it will go away.



"Everyone can make it on their own merits."


Again, I don't understand what's wrong with this phrase. I think it's true. If someone can tell me why it's considered offensive, I would appreciate it.



"Stop screaming, whining and crying about race."


Nobody likes to be told to stop crying. About anything. So, while I understand the offense taken by this phrase, I don't think it's reasonable to expect that this one's going to go away. And it's definitely not just about race. We all hear it at one time or another and it sucks!
But like Semper said, it's just someone's opinion. It's just something someone says to make a point or to try to get someone to shut up or to express frustration.

Just some thoughts...



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 02:14 PM
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(edit of personal remarks)


Originally posted by semperfortis

Victim Culture
Invisible Knapsack
Linguistic Gymnastics


Linguistic gymnastics has NOTHING TO DO with race discussions. It's a reference to the tendency to manipulate the words of others to make them say something that you wanted them to say, but they didn't.

Take your issues with Invisible knapsack up with Peggy McIntosh.

Victim culture is what you and others made up to denigrate black people who speak out on issues of race in America. Y'all have had a LOT of fun with this phrase. Quite shameful and disgusting...


But, your new term takes the cake: dominant race.

We now have a guy who wants to scrap a sociological term and replace it with one that smacks of white supremacy. Nice. Whatever makes you feel superior, er, better, as you pat yourself on the back.

(edit of personal remarks, please see your u2u)

Mod Note: Please Stay on Topic

[edit on 6-4-2007 by DontTreadOnMe]



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 02:40 PM
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Originally posted by truthseeka
Victim culture is what you and others made up to denigrate black people who speak out on issues of race in America. Y'all have had a LOT of fun with this phrase. Quite shameful and disgusting...


But, your new term takes the cake: dominant race.

We now have a guy who wants to scrap a sociological term and replace it with one that smacks of white supremacy. Nice. Whatever makes you feel superior, er, better, as you pat yourself on the back.

I'll catch you in some other thread, Ceci.


Victim culture encompasses all walks of life. It is an internal dialog which disallows an individual to overcome hardships. It is not penned to one group with a specific goal.

If we are to have a 'race' discussion, then absolutely the phrase 'dominant race' fits. It just so happens, this is a perfect example of the power the meanings of these phrases has. Semper's meaning, which was explained very clearly in his post, has 'dominant' meaning something entirely different than what truthseeka has percieved it to be.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 02:48 PM
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Originally posted by nextguyinline
Victim culture encompasses all walks of life. It is an internal dialog which disallows an individual to overcome hardships. It is not penned to one group with a specific goal.


Taurus feces.

They only made up victim culture because they were mad at Ceci for using dominant culture, a term that IS used in sociology, instead of by Internet users to put down people with more melanin in their skin than them. Nice try...not.




If we are to have a 'race' discussion, then absolutely the phrase 'dominant race' fits. It just so happens, this is a perfect example of the power the meanings of these phrases has. Semper's meaning, which was explained very clearly in his post, has 'dominant' meaning something entirely different than what truthseeka has percieved it to be.


I saw semp's explanation. So? Don't you think sociologists thought of that when they started using dominant culture? They wisely realized that culture is more appropriate than race, given the white supremacy backbone of the US.

But hey, whatever...I guess.



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 02:53 PM
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BH,

Great post and thank you for the heads up and interesting contribution to the thread..


That's like saying, "I understand what you're saying to me and it's very sweet, but I'm choosing to take it as an insult. Not because you mean it to be, but because I'm changing your meaning and interpreting it to be a denial of who I am and a racist statement."


That is something that we have observed here on these threads as a matter of course it seems... And obviously anything that one says may be turned on them to infer an insult... But that is not something that the speaker should concern themselves with IMO. As long as the comment/phrase was not intended to insult, if the recipient chooses to make that erroneous connection, it is no longer the responsibility of the speaker and it falls to the feet of the recipient..

I am often referred to as a Hillbilly, Jarhead, and yes even Pig here recently... I choose to consider where the comments are coming from and accept the limitations of others as a matter of course...


I have learned from the black people here that I've been talking with, that being black is a large part of their identity. I understand and accept that without judgment. But I don't think it's fair that I must also make race (mine or theirs) a large part of our identities. Call that "white privilege" or whatever. I don't care. But if my statement of acceptance, that is KNOWN to be made in love and good will is going to be purposefully misinterpreted and made into an insult by the receiver, then it's going to be kind of hard to come to an understanding.


As I have previously stated, I have Native American and African blood in my veins. This does not concern me in anyway. It is however apparently a concern of some and evidently comprises much of their time.
I do not see how one can make the leap that if you are NOT obsessive about race, you are practicing white privilege or white anything..


"Everyone can make it on their own merits."

Again, I don't understand what's wrong with this phrase. I think it's true. If someone can tell me why it's considered offensive, I would appreciate it.


This phrase is NOT race specific in anyway, unless my Granny was of a different race then I. She said this to me a million times...

Again, if this is going to be intellectual, and not just smug remarks posted back and forth, the phrases must be taken for what they are and understood in the context they are used in everyday language.
If they are not race specific. One may ask, were they used in a racial way? Then they become racial.
Other phrases are definitely race specific and must be dealt with in that context....

Semper



posted on Apr, 6 2007 @ 02:53 PM
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Sociologists are not infallible.

'Victim culture' is a not a phrase made up by interneters against the more melanonined folk.

HERE is a good example.





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